Games, they’re great right? Most of us are fairly content with playing them but there’s a few of you out there that want to take that love even further. There are those who want to play games and then there are those who want to make them. Whether it is a cute, endearing side scroller or the next iteration of Doom. We aren’t here to judge your tastes but we are here to provide you with the knowledge of how to go about making these games. We’re just here to guide you on the best laptop for game development.
When it comes to ‘game-dev’ there are a lot of things to consider. What engine do you use? How big is this game going to be? Will you ever see the sun again? While we can’t answer these questions for you, we can tell you what the best laptop is for developing your new game so don’t worry! This list has got you covered.
Table of Contents
Our Picks for the Best Laptop for Game Development
Starting things off is this budget option for those looking into developing 2D games. For example, this is an option for using the Game Maker engine or another suite that allows for 2D development. Along with being a great laptop in its own right, its price point is more than fair for what you get for it. Packing a sleek black case along with green trim along the backlit keyboard and icons. It yells simplicity and that’s exactly what you are getting. Coming with 2 USB 3.0 ports and 1 USB 2.0 port. It has an ethernet port, an SD card reader and an HDMI out port. As well as a built-in webcam, but honestly, an investment into the Logitech C920 wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Though none of its components are top of the line, this laptop is great for those who are just starting their venture into game development. Which is where we need to start talking about the things that it can’t do. If you’re looking to get involved with 3D game engines like Unity, this should get you through it. Since it meets the minimum requirements for simply running the engine but developing a game on it is another matter entirely. The GTX 1050 might struggle to keep up with bigger projects and really it does come down to the size of the project that you have in mind
That, however, doesn’t stop this from being a great machine. Especially for those who are completely new to the world of game development and beyond that it’s great for general work. As a gaming machine in its own right, it isn’t powerful enough to run most modern games with ease but it can be used to visit some older classics in PC gaming. Games like the Original Deus Ex and the Half Life series are going to perform great on this laptop and if you are new to the world of PC gaming then it’d be a great opportunity to do some *cough* ‘research’.
The HP Pavilion Gaming 15 is perfect if you want to step into 2D game development but beyond that? Let’s take a look at the others on this list.
For the developer who wants to learn 2D game development and begin to dabble in 3D game development, this laptop is a good place to start. The laptop itself is clean, with a black and red color scheme and great build quality all in a surprisingly light package. The brushed aluminum body looks great as both a work notepad and a gaming pc. The black case is balanced with the crimson red, backlit keyboard which contrasts really nicely in typical MSI fashion. The keyboard itself seems high quality and should be more than capable of keeping up with the programming you’ll be doing.
Coming with a built-in webcam, 3 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, 1 USB type C port, a headphone port, microphone port, and HDMI port. It should also stay cool with its 2 fans and 4 exhausts in most circumstances. It weighs in at 4.1 lbs which is very good if you plan to take it anywhere and should be light enough to not weigh you down too much. This laptop has also made it very easy to upgrade both its storage and RAM. So, if for whatever reason you need to upgrade either of those things, you’re in luck.
In terms of what it can do for you with game development? It’s a lot, especially with its price point. The 16GB of RAM and the GTX1650 will let you do a lot more with the games you develop. Allowing you to make more complex games but there are a few downsides to this laptop. While you’ll be able to run and develop both 2D and 3D games, your 3D games will realistically be limited to using Unity or Unreal Engine 3 or other engines at that same level. Not bad engines at all in their own right, but the inability to fully learn and use more recent engines like Unreal Engine 4 may stunt your growth as a developer.
The MSI GF63 is a great laptop for those who want to combine mid-level PC gaming with the craft of a game developer. All encompassed in a light package. But if you need something with a little more power then the next one might just be the one for you.
This model of the HP Omen 17 is a laptop that is both built for gaming and priced reasonably. With a similar look and feel to the MSI GF63 due to the black and red color combo, you could easily confuse the two at first glance. However, if we dive a little deeper we can really see the differences. The back of the screen has a very nice segmented style with a patterned finish. The main body of the laptop is thick and chunky so if you’re looking for something thin and light then this might not be the one for you. Weighing in at 7.08 lbs this might not be all that suitable for long journeys if weight bogs you down.
But along with this comes a bunch of ports: 3 USB 3.1, 1 USB 3.1 type C, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 Mini Display and an ethernet port. It also comes with headphone and microphone ports as an SD card reader. Any space not taken up by a port is then used up by ventilation. The battery life on this laptop is also pretty bad, so this really isn’t something you’re going to be traveling with unless you want to carry around a mini-generator in your bag. But it does still have some great aspects too.
First with the screen itself that has a 144hz refresh rate, a massive upgrade in comparison to our two previous entries. The next step up lies in the 9th generation i7 processor which packs 6 cores instead of the 4 found in the AMD Ryzen 5. Topping it all off with the GTX 1660Ti which packs way more of a punch than the GTX 1650. Though the amount of RAM it has is half of what was offered by the MSI GF63 this won’t be too much of an issue, since you can upgrade the RAM with relative ease.
But what does all of this mean? Well for starters this laptop is going to allow you to make even bigger games than you could with the previous entry. As well as that, it’ll make your general development time a lot easier as it should be able to keep up with most tasks. The main thing to bear in mind is the weight of the laptop. While it isn’t massive by any means, if your lifestyle contains a lot of traveling, you might want to look elsewhere.
You might be limited to some of the older engines that we discussed in the previous entry, so if you need more power then check out this next entry.
Acer’s Predator Triton 500 is a really powerful laptop in a very light package. Keeping in what has been tradition so far in this list, we’ve got another black-bodied laptop with a soft blue tint. The keyboard, however, is a little more interesting since you are able to fully customize the backlight by assigning different zones of color. But apart from aesthetics what are you actually getting here?
Well in terms of its ports we’ve got 3 USB 3.1 ports, 1 type C USB port, 1 HDMI 2.0 port, 1 mini display port and of course a built-in webcam that outputs a 1280 x 720 resolution. We have a microphone port as well as a headphone port. Keeping it cool are 3 fans that unfortunately also make this laptop quite loud. Annoying if that is the kind of thing that bothers you. It also struggles to keep cool even with the fans doing their best. So the trade-off here is ultimately power and performance over comfort.
Yet again we’ve got a screen with a 144hz refresh rate which will make almost everything you do on this laptop look better. It’s also coming with an Intel i7 9750H processor just like the Omen 17. But this laptop also comes with double the amount of RAM, letting you do even more without the laptop slowing down and stuttering. Something you definitely don’t want when trying to design a level. This model is also coming with an RTX 2060, a graphics card that is able to easily keep up with most modern games with ease. If you’re eyeing up developing in Unreal Engine 4 then this is the place to start. As well as being capable of developing in other engines easily, it should be able to hold its own in later engines as well.
Though if you are looking for a laptop that is going to give you maximum performance for game development then our last entry might just be the one for you.
Our final laptop is a powerhouse in comparison to the others on this list. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is a laptop that focuses on performance and style. The black body meshes well with the vibrant and colorful keyboard that we’ve got on show here. A keyboard that is once again backlit but this time with each key being configurable to your preferred color. The brushed aluminum lid looks great and is complemented by the ROG logo. It’s also very light for how powerful it is, weighing in at 4.4 lbs.
This time around we’ve got 3 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, 1 USB 3.1 type C with DisplayPort, separate headphone and microphone jacks and an HDMI out port. We also have an RJ45 ethernet port which is always handy. This is also the only laptop on this list that doesn’t have a built-in webcam, so if that’s an issue for you you may want to look elsewhere (again I highly recommend the Logitech C920). This laptop is also cooled by 3 fans that will get noisier the further it is pushed. Though thankfully you are able to control the speed at which the fans spin, simply by changing their mode. Though due to the power of the laptop, expect some heat.
Speaking of power, this laptop has it in spades. Sharing the same 6-core processor as the other on this list, there’s no upgrade there. Not that an upgrade is necessary since this is a very good processor for most situations. The GPU is a beast in this laptop as well, with the RTX 2070 being more than capable of running most games at ultra settings with very little issue. This also means that the games you develop are able to be more and more complex. Which is made even truer by the large amount of DDR4 RAM, at 32GB. A huge amount of RAM that will make most development tasks easily doable. This is all done on a beautiful screen that has a refresh rate of 240Hz that will make everything you do look extremely crisp and responsive.
This laptop should easily be able to handle most development tasks in 2020 with its specs either meeting the minimum requirements of game engines or far surpassing them. IF you want a laptop that will enable you to do whatever you want creatively this is the one for you.
To top this list off I want to reiterate how important it is that you choose the laptop that is best suited to what YOU need. Think about what you want to create, whether you are new to game development or if you are a seasoned developer. Do your research beyond this article and make sure you find the laptop that is right for you.
An SSD will seriously improve your workflow and will make your life a lot easier. It’ll help with general loading times and give you some extra storage.
Battery life will vary widely from laptop to laptop, game development will also drain the battery. A lot. So keep that in mind.
When it comes to RAM always try to get more than you think you’ll need. The safest option is to always aim for 8GB and up.
Do your research on what kind of game you want to make before deciding on a laptop! You might only want to make 2D games with sprites so it would be silly to overspend on hardware you won’t need.
The obvious benefit of a laptop over a desktop is the portability. So make sure you know how heavy the laptop is before you buy it.
System Requirements for Game Dev Software
Game Maker System Requirements:
Windows XP, Vista, 7 or later
A DirectX 9 compatible Graphics card with 32MB of memory
A DirectX 9 compatible sound card
At least 128MB of memory
Unity Engine Minimum Development Requirements:
Windows 7 and Windows 10, 64-bit versions only
DX10, DX11, and DX12-capable GPUs
At least 2GB of VRAM
At least 8GB of system RAM
Unreal Engine 3 Minimum Development Requirements:
Windows 7 and Windows 10, 64-bit versions
At least 8GB of system RAM
At least 1GB of VRAM (though more is heavily recommended)
Plenty of HDD space
Unreal Engine 4 Minimum Development Requirements:
Windows 10 64-bit
DirectX 11 or DirectX 12 compatible graphics card
Quad-core Intel or AMD, 2.5 GHz or faster
At least 8GB of system RAM (More is heavily recommended)
That concludes this buying guide for Best Laptop for Game Development. Below I’ve noted down the requirements for different game engines so you roughly know what you’re aiming for. Good luck, thank you so much for reading and let us know the game-dev is going! Looking for more laptop advice? See our guide for the Best Laptop for Overwatch.